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FAIL: Bouncing When Stretching

In an effort to get a better stretch, you may be tempted to "bounce" your way into a certain position. Problem is, this "ballistic stretching" tactic actually backfires. A complex mechanism within the muscle contains a built-in safety feature that detects the bouncing and reacts by contracting. It does this to protect the muscle from becoming overstretched, says Rubenstein. "When you rapidly stretch the muscles by bouncing, the muscle spindles send a message to the spinal chord telling the muscle to tighten up. This then causes 'microtears' within the muscle itself," says Rubenstein. "Too much bouncing may actually lead to torn muscles." Prevent injury by stretching only after a warm-up (not as) and by holding each stretch for 10 to 20 seconds. Only go as far as your body wants. Bouncing your way into that extra centimeter of stretch just isn’t worth it.

(CREDIT: Hauke Dressler/Look/Getty Images)
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